I had never ever seen this phrase before!! The context is shale gas, and here is the whole paragraph for you to understand :
"The issue of shale gas has become part of a wider debate about the perceived conflict between Europe’s competitiveness and its unilateral climate policy. This debate is increasingly cast in terms of ‘cheap shale gas versus expensive renewable energy’. In this debate, the contrast is made between an economically depressed Europe and an America that has both embraced shale gas and avoided saddling itself with a burdensome climate policy. The fear that Europe’s energy-intensive industries will migrate to the US in search of cheaper input costs is voiced, among others, by the EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger."

Many thanks for your help! :-)

  • I guess that you might just forget that the past and past participle forms of cast are cast! Mar 20, 2015 at 21:40

1 Answer 1


They are talking about different ways of looking at the debate. "Cast" is probably the most important word in understanding that phrase. If you look at the definition on Dictionary.com, number four says,

to cause to fall upon something or in a certain direction; send forth: "to cast a soft light; to cast a spell; to cast doubts."

When you cast something in this way, or cast something in that way, you are changing how a person sees it. You are moving a person's view of something in a new direction. If you bring up new information about a subject, you are casting new light on the subject.

When you cast the terms of something in a new direction, you are changing the way people talk about something.

In this case, increasingly cast in terms of [something], means that more and more often, people are seeing and discussing the topic in this new way.

I would assume the writer is using the word choice to imply that someone or something is purposely causing people to think about and discuss shale gas in a certain way. Someone benefits from people seeing shale gas as cheap, and renewable energy as expensive.

  • User1986: Thanks a lot, I understand now! I just have to find a way to put it into French now as I'd like to translate the article this extract is taken from! Anyone who wants to add more explanations on this is welcome.
    – FrenchMan
    Mar 20, 2015 at 22:04
  • @FrenchMan My French is pretty primitive, but you might try «(re)présenter en termes de». The particular sense of cast employed here involves putting things into an appropriate form or order, as when we cast actors in a play or cast iron in a mold or cast a verb into the past form. Mar 20, 2015 at 23:07
  • @StoneyB : Thanks. I have finally come up with "Ce débat s'oriente de plus en plus vers", literally meaning "This debate is more and more oriented towards", which is an expression in French.
    – FrenchMan
    Mar 21, 2015 at 13:38

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